Many young boys dream of growing up to be a professional athlete. For some it is their love of the sport whereas, for others, they hope it is a path to a professional career and fame and fortune. As they mature, however, some realize they may not have been gifted genetically with the physical attributes that match their drive and passion. The real fortunate ones are those who are guided by their parents and coaches to use their athletic skill to earn a college scholarship.
Two alums in the latter camp and who have followed their dreams are Ryley Guay '12 and Matt Hembrough '13. Their talents, gifts, commitment, and hard work will pay off with a degree that will position them for a successful career in the real world.
Both boys played football at Peter and
Paul as well as
at Benet Academy. Although soccer was his preferred sport, Ryley's strong leg soon caught the attention of the Redwings football coaches and he was asked to play both sports and become their kicker on kick-offs, points after touchdown, and field goals.
Ryley enjoyed the double duty so much that he would attend kicking camps during the summer. Prior to his senior year he attended a kicking camp at Vanderbilt University and won the competition over nearly 50 other participants. He was encouraged to enroll at the Southeastern Conference school.
Because of his outstanding grades and strong ACT scores, Ryley was welcomed as a preferred walk-on. As a bio-chemistry major, he plans to pursue a degree in emergency medicine working with special needs children.
His role this year is primarily kick-offs as he backs up a senior. However, he has been pressed into duty in various games and his resume includes a 53 yd. field goal against Florida. His longest in practice is 62 yards, and he knows he must improve his consistency to secure a NFL tryout.
Matt Hembrough was relatively undersized in the early stages of playing football. Realizing that many D. 1 athletes possess 'freak of nature' size and speed, he thought his playing career would end after high school.
Than fate intervened.
After being pressed into service as a long snapper during his sophomore year at Benet, he decided to hone his skill by attending the Rubio Long Snapping camp in Texas the following two summers. Their coaching and instruction has led to placing 350 long snappers in college over the last 3 years.
Matt also began to mature physically and now checks in at 6'4", 205 lbs. Whereas his father played college ball at Illinois State, Matt had loftier goals and dreamed of playing the game he loved at a top 15 school.
His prowess at the Rubio camp quickly got him noticed as he was consistently ranked in the top 10 of camp attendees. This led to a full-ride offer from North Texas University which he declined as he wanted to play at a more prominent program. His patience was rewarded when Oklahoma State came calling.
Matt, a business major, is now a red-shirt freshman for the Cowboys and playing in the Big 12 Conference each week against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas, and Kansas State.
Although long snappers are seldom noticed or recognized by the average fan or broadcaster, coaches know that one bad snap can alter the outcome of a play, game, or season. Matt accepts that challenge and works hard to hone his craft and will be happy if his name is never mentioned in the paper or on television because that means he has done his job well.
We are proud of these two alums who contribute to their football squad's special teams.